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The insinuation of the affair is questionable, and perhaps libelous (even repeating an unsubstantiated rumor is considered libelous, especially when in a top national publication). The rest of the report discusses similar episodes — moments where McCain probably didn’t do anything wrong (see this post by David Freddoso on the Washington Post version of the story) So the story is simply a catalogue of potential sins that are never realized, offered by sources that are never named. No wonder McCainiacs are ticked. Yet this is precisely the sort of scrutiny of moral conscience that McCain has supported.
The NRA and the ACLU both can’t buy ad time in the days before an election because doing so, by virtue of the ethical senator’s own philosophy, is manipulating the people and hurting democracy. But when McCain hops a flight with a campaign contributor, it ought to be obvious that he’s maintaining his integrity. Why is it that associations comprised of every day citizens are suspect, but a powerful politician is not?
Sure, it’s a bait and switch. But it’s a very good one because it demonstrates the very problem presented by the John McCain School of Ethics. This is not a story about what happened. It’s a story about what could have happened. What was feared to have happened. What, it must be assumed in good faith, did not happen. Campaign advisers were afraid that “the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.”
While it’s clear that supporters and passers-by will dismiss the Times report as overblown in its importance (and, of course, heap onto the Times for being incautious about its use of sources), the dredging up of a real ethics flap will not help a man who has made ethics a cornerstone of his campaign. But the story might have a few positive effects after all.
Conservatives will likely rally for McCain. McCain will have the opportunity to show just how comfortable he is with transparency and talk to the press in a way that Americans will appreciate. He’ll have a chance to highlight his record as a reformer in Congress. And the New York Times’s public editor, Clark Hoyt, will have a very entertaining column attempting to explain what happened.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online